Due to continued COVID-19 concerns, northern Michigan’s Farmfest has finally bowed to the pandemic and plans to return to the Johannesburg farm in 2021.
In the end, even Farmfest — one of the last Michigan music festivals still standing — has bowed to the coronavirus pandemic.
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Despite high hopes in recent months that the small northern Michigan festival featuring scores of performances by regional bands could safely manage attendees amid COVID-19, organizer Stacy Jo Schiller has announced the cancellation of the Aug. 6-9 event in Johannesburg, east of Gaylord.
“One of the hardest things I have ever done, since my heart and soul was into making the grounds the safest place anyone had seen yet,” she stated on the festival’s website, adding that organizers are “deeply sorry for this news.”
“For all you beautiful souls that purchased tickets or signed up to volunteer or sponsored a band or was hired for sound and lights or was booked to play, you guys just roll it all over to 2021. We will fine tune it this coming winter.”
Farmfest joins dozens of other Michigan music festivals — large and small — which have been forced by the pandemic and health restrictions to cancel 2020 events and look ahead to 2021.
Schiller added that 2021 tickets are available for sale and “still limiting (sales) so we can maintain a small crowd and institute safety measures.”
Acts scheduled to play Farmfest included Full Cord, Distant Stars, Bandura Gypsies, Blue Water Ramblers, Beaver Xing, Real Ingredients, Oh Brother Big Sister, Biomassive, Steel and Wood, Alice Oakes, Michelle Held, Jack & the Bear, Olivia Mainville, Jake Allen and others.
Schiller had earlier indicated the festival would use “laser thermometers at the gate” to test attendees and take other precautions to ensure social-distancing and minimize risks. But then things started to fall apart.
“I am devastated. Bands were canceling left and right. I have a wait list (for performance slots) a mile long, but it was very hard to get anyone to commit,” she told Local Spins, adding that one of the sound companies canceled as well. She also said she was “getting lambasted with Facebook posts about how there is no way I could guarantee safety” at the event.
The long-running camping festival amid what one performer has called a “gorgeous” setting on a working farm also has featured evening jams along with main stage performances as well as giving festivalgoers the ability to “sample organic food grown right here at the farm.”
Northern Michigan musician Radel Rosin noted on Facebook that it’s a tough situation because Schiller “relies on festivalgoers to help with income for upkeep on the farm. My heart goes out to this spectacular musician supporter and owner of such a special place in Northern Michigan. We all look forward to spreading love for music with one another every year on the farm; this year will be much different.”
Schiller did say that some volunteer workers planned to show up anyway, so the farm would hold “kind of an open-mic thing” on the main stage Friday and Saturday nights to entertain the volunteers.
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